Roseville Recap September 19
September 21, 2013East Ridge Boys Soccer
The high flying Raptors were frustrated and held to a goalless draw at Roseville on Thursday night. Looking for their 9th win and 5th on the trott in the SEC, the league leading Raptors had to withstand several Raider near chances and the frustration of missing several sitters.
In the first half, the normally stout Raptor defense failed to impress as Roseville carried play and territorial possession. While Chris Knight's goal keeping efforts were initially kept at a minimum, there were troubling signs as gaps appeared where none had existed before. Midfield play, normally the fulcrum upon which the Raptors offense is lifted, was individual and disconnected. The forwards work rate remained high but the space was limited by a confident and tight pressing Raider defensive line.
Things started brightly for the Raptors as they tested Roseville with probing possession. The pressure by Roseville was most keenly felt through the middle and whenever the Raptors tried to go forward. Their compression defense left little room for the Raptors to fly down the edges.
The Raptors had to grittily work for every inch and use their long range attack as needed. The first of these saw Joseph Kays (KZ) launch a curling long ball into the box and behind the defense. Jarrod Ronquillo read it beautifully and sold out on his diving header. The connection was clean but it went just wide. It was a beautiful play...lacking only the luster of a netting. This was the first real site of goal for either team.
The Raiders were able to counter effectively the entire first half. With Raptor defensive mis galore, seams opened and the Raptors defense scrambled to cover. At times it looked more like an interweaving hockey line than a soccer defensive border. Coach was not happy and everyone knew it. Raptor goalkeeper Knight also had to be alert to prevent a Roseville throws and crosses from reaching their desitination.
Impatiently the Raptors would push forward but did not have the numbers to sustain the attack. This allowed Roseville to counter effectively stranding the Raptor midfield from supporting either the offense or the defense. At this time, the Raiders got on the break down the right and successfully centered. A mad scramble in the box ensued and the Raiders fired a shot that deflected as a perfectly weighted chip on goal. Knight, who had been off his line to cut down the angle on the danger, suddenly recognized the crisis and clammered back just in time to deflect the ball out. His work was not done however as it went right to a charging Roseville player who got good wood on the ball. Knight was not to be denied however as he selflessly threw his entire body at the ball deflecting it out and away from danger.
Touch, which has always made a difference in previous games, had eluded the Raptors for most of the first half. But as the Raptors lathered up, their flowing game returned nurtured by Samuel Ruiz-Plaza in the middle feeding the attack. His forward play to Connor Stevenson, Jarrod and Zack Boerjan opened up more room for the play to flow. Roseville countered with a number of hard fouls that slowed play...much to the crowd's chagrin. The Raptors then won a foul that Alec Tostenrud's (Toast) long effort finds Connor's head. With the whole goal open, the ball was played right to the keeper.
While touch might have been found up front, it remained fleeting in the back. Knowing this, the Raptors Captains took ownership and their work rate and talk increased. Speed of play was also an issue as there was a tendency to sit on the ball when in possession. This was especially true in the final third as several shots were passed up for another controlling touch.
As the half wound down, the Raptors had their best chance of the game when they won a foul at midfield. Toast then launched another mortar to Connor who was challenged by the keeper. Connor's header was deflected straight up. Credit Connor for seeing the ball. Credit Connor for boxing out the keeper and defenders for the ball. Credit Connor for the patience to play with a foot. All this credit was then undone by clubbing it against the crossbar and out. A sitter. Give Connor some ambien tonight for that one.
With the half over, it was fair to be a draw. Old MacDonald was on hand to collect all the Raptors eggs laid all over the field.
The Raptors collected themselves and reframed their intent. The 2nd half showed much more of the promise of a side with Reaching purposes. The defense shored itself up and became the wall of the first 8 games. The offense still struggled to find its grip as the midfield play continued to be choked. Individual midfield efforts were good and with the touch improving, the Raptors were able to turn defense into offense...but still struggled to support and maintain the pressure. Rather than frustrating the Raiders through cohesive and creative midfield play, the ball played between the front and back lines like at a giant schoolyard swing.
Credit Roseville for collapsing and defending in numbers in a very physcial fashion. Play began to deteriorate as the physical play went uncommented by the referee. This began an escalation of events that eventually resulted in another card for Connor.
All the pressure was for the Raptors, however, and they won several corner kicks. Having perfected the art of corner kicks in previous games, the Raptors went close on several occasions including a backpost effort that Thomas Redden headed down into the ground rather than the back of the net. That was another close one.
Several more chances penetrating through the middle went begging and the Raptors began taking longer range shots that went off target. Play grew ragged as legs tired from the hard fought match. The Raptors had to defend once more in regulation after a curious corner was called...but KZ cleaned up to finish time.
The first OT of the year was then played. The rule is simple. Play 2 five minute OT periods switching sides. The score at the end is the result. In both periods, the Raptors dominated offensive possession and chances. The physical play took a toll on the Raptors as both Connor and Zack went down.
Then Roseville had its moment. From a misplayed midfield pass, Roseville penetrated right deeply with numbers. Their center was found and fired upon Knight who saved brilliantly by coming out and cutting off the angle. The big rebound bounced to another Raider player who bounced the ball goalbound. KZ has Knight's back and cleared the ball from the line but not completely out. As Knight scrambled back, one final effort was put on goal but it dribbled wide.
The porta-potties got a good work-out at that point.
Back came the Raptors with their final and best effort of the OT. Zack found space down the left, cut back right and was open in the middle. He then took one more touch to clear himself of defenders and to get the ball on his right foot...and was dumped. No call. Of course no call. This ref didn't call anything like that. The ball continued to the left where it was picked up by Austin who was able to get the right edge and then center it through to a backside charging Thomas. With the goal wide upon, he powered his shot over the crossbar and harmlessly away to his horror.
The game ultimately ended in a 0-0 draw. In a sense, the Raptors were lucky for the draw if not for a couple of splendid Knight saves who earned Man-of-the-match honors. However, on the whole the Raptors were the better team. They were unlucky to not have scored at least 4 goals on about 8 decent opportunities.
In the spirit of the Raptors value of Positivity, the Raptors should be encouraged that they could play so poorly against a good team and still get a result. From the spirit of Accountability, some self reflection is in order. They cannot afford to play like this against the better teams.
Soccer is a sport where things like this happen. Confidence ebbing and flowing is a normal thing. Things do not get any easier however as the Raptors take on Stillwater for the top of the SEC table on Tuesday in the Nest. That should be a crowd pleaser.